Fasting has always been a part of human evolution. Back in hunter-gatherer days we would go prolonged periods without food, expending energy as we hunt our prey. It wasn’t until 10,000 years ago when agriculture emerged, going without food became less normal. However, fasting has never been truly absent in many cultures and religions: e.g. short fasting in Judaism’s 24-hour Yom Kippur, and Buddhism’s daily post-midday fast, to the prolonged 30-day dawn-to-dusk fasting for Muslims in Ramadan
Fasting- The science
In recent times fasting has become a hot topic amongst scientists and has fueled much research into the mechanism of associated health benefits associated with reduced calorie consumption and intermittent fasting (IF).
Back in 1945, a study in the Journal of Nutrition discovered that rats could increase life expectancy (20% for males and 15% for females). This was achieved by reducing calorie consumption with an intermittent fast of 1 day in 3 achieving best results.
Since this time there has been a variety of studies both in animals and humans to see how health and longevity were affected by IF. A review of such research in the American Journal of Nutrition found that IF modulated several risk factors, thereby preventing chronic disease in animals. Human trials to date have reported greater insulin-mediated glucose uptake. The limited human evidence suggests higher HDL-cholesterol concentrations (healthy cholesterol) and lower triacylglycerol concentrations.
Currently some of the reported benefits of IF:
So how do we explain the benefits of daily energy restriction (DER) and IF? A breakthrough came from a Japanese biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi who won the Nobel prize in 2016 for his work into autophagy (pronounced ‘or-toffa-gee’) – when pathogens (infectious agents), cell ‘junk’ or old and damaged structures are broken down inside a cell and the parts reused.
This is basically what happens in the body everyday as a byproduct of its metabolic processes. Otherwise known as “oxidative stress” it’s a bit like rust building up on your engine over time. It will inevitably happen unless we give our body an opportunity for essential maintenance. This is where autophagy kicks in and fasting taps into this process of cell repair and regeneration.
This is how physiologist believe it happens…
When we don’t eat for several hours the liver stops secreting glucose into the blood stream and instead uses it to repair damaged cells. Simultaneously the liver releases enzymes that break down stored fat and cholesterol. Hence during an (IF) our liver is repairing oxidative stress and burning fat.
The key is that what we eat, and when, affects this process. Sometimes what we eat pushes cells to keep multiplying and not recycle, called an anabolic state. Sometimes our body moves into a different state – one where we tidy up cells, kill off and recycle old ones. This is called the catabolic state, and it happens when we don’t eat. For optimal human health, the balance between anabolic and catabolic processes is crucial. Unfortunately this has been disrupted by modern society- readily available food sources, high-density calorific processed food and environmental influences such as marketing that promote regular snacking!
Putting Intermittent fasting into practice.
Michael Mosley has popularized (IF) with his books the 5:2 and the fast 800….
Time-restricted feeding (TRF): has been gaining popularity in recent years as perhaps an easier way of reducing the calories you consume every 24 hours. The basic premise is to only eat within a set period of time – anything from an 8 to 12-hour window being typical. In practice this means you finish eating after dinner at, say, 8pm – and you don’t eat again until 8am the next day (12-hour window for eating) or 12pm the next day (8-hour window for eating).
I have been trialing this 16 hour fast in every 24-hour period, as I am asleep for half and need only miss breakfast. From a compliancy perspective this is more realistic and the key for me is not to overcompensate in volume or quality. As previously reported I mainly stick to a Mediterranean diet, mainly plant based with fish, legumes, nuts (and red meat 1 -2 times week).
Finally for any eating plan to work it must be specific to your dietary needs attractive to you and sustainable for the long term. Certain Individuals should reframe from severe calorific restriction and fasting protocols. Michael Mosley has some guidelines, but best speak to your physician or qualified nutritionist/ dietician first.
Have you tried Intermittent fasting? If so what has your experience been?
I would love to hear from you J
Listen to Michael Mosley on RN podcast
Inflammation: a new approach to obesity and depression
Centenary Institute Oration recorded 16 September 2019
As you know, my husband and I have been on a “diet” since 28/8/19 and he’s lost 5 -6 kg so far and I’ve lost 4kg. You might remember I mentioned how he got a gee-up from the GP about his fats and sugars trending the wrong way – and the doc sent him off to lose 4 kg before November. It turned out to be very motivating!! (Also, I told him I wasn’t interested in spending my retirement looking after a stroked-out diabetic husband and that I was re-thinking the “in sickness and in health” bit of the marriage vows (joke)).
Click below for full transcript
When people come to me and discuss weight loss, our conversation inevitably moves from what they are eating to how much. In my previous blog post I talked about the importance of eating a whole food and mainly plant based Mediterranean diet. This month I want to share with you three hacks (backed by science) that have proven to reduce calories consumed per meal.
My first strategy is to stop the mindless eating. Put more simply, remove any devise (TV, tablet, computer or phone) and eat without distraction. New Research shows that when people engage in activities such as watching television, engaging in social media or playing video games at the same time as eating, they tend to eat more and consume greater amounts of protein, carbohydrate, fat and saturated fat according to findings published in “Obesity”.
The researchers found that when participants ate while doing something else during they took in 17.6 more grams of carbohydrates, 6.5 more grams of fat, 6.1 more grams of protein and 2.1 more grams of saturated fat.
The take home message is put down that phone or controller!
Distracted eating leads people to consume more at a meal. The research also showed that there was no evidence for compensating and eating less at the next meal. The result is extra food, calories and energy intake.
My second strategy is to simply eat slowly. Firstly it is an opportunity to connect mindfully with the flavours, textures and aromas of your meal. To truly connect, be present and enjoy! From a physiological perspective, it takes 20-30 minutes to produce the hormone cholecystokinin. Once triggered it tells your brain its time to stop eating. The take home message is to slow down and let your physiology take over!
Finally, hack your environment to nudge smaller portions. Firstly, after serving your meal (but not eating) place all leftovers in Tupperware and place straight in the fridge for future meals. This simple action will mean you are less likely to have seconds. The other nudge is to use smaller plates and bowls. Large plates and large packaging, mean more eating (Wansink, 2006) and they are a form of choice architecture that works as major nudges. Just ask the food and beverage industries!
Currently the most topical strategy for reducing calories is to try an intermittent fast. There is increasing research and evidence into the health benefits, but the science of fasting and helpful hacks will be in my next blog. J
Do you have any other strategies to mange portion control when eating? I would love to hear from you and share your thoughts.
You can't afford not to watch this Ted Talk! Learn more about sleep's impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code with sleep expert Matt Walker...
Some hacks to Improve your sleep
The following are a range of tools for improving poor sleep. Some maybe more applicable to your own situation. If sleep problems continue despite the application of the following strategies it is advisable that you seek attention from a trained sleep specialist.
Are there any other rituals or behaviours that assist you in getting the best possible sleep? If so, I want to hear from you :)
RN Health Report Related Sleep Stories
Sleeping pills don't work for insomnia in the long run — they can often make your sleep worse — but there's good evidence a specialised type of cognitive behavioural therapy can help. Listen to Report
Some people are naturally inclined to sleep early and wake early, too — what you probably know as a 'morning lark' or 'early bird. Listen to Report
My grandfather who originated from Crete ate a mostly plant based diet not for health but mainly due to availability and financial constraints of animal protein. Red meat was an occasional luxury and his original diet was a traditional Mediterranean affair with the staple array of vegetables, pulses, a moderate intake of fish, Greek yoghurt a little red wine and plenty of olive oil!
With his migration in the 1920’s came more affluence, urbanization and increase access to meat, this status symbol was wholeheartedly embraced in this new “lucky country.” Interestingly today only 7% of Australians eat the recommended five serves of vegetables per day!
We know that diet plays a big role in chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Scientists have been looking into the benefits of traditional diets in their quest for answers, with the Mediterranean diet attracting most of the research. According to the American Journal of clinical nutrition, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, cancers neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and living a longer life. Unfortunately my grandfather who took on the Australian love for steak and sausages, died in his 80s with diabetes, high blood pressure and dementia!
According to the World Health Organisation, there is sufficient evidence that processed meats like ham, bacon, salami and sausages may increase your risk of colorectal cancer. For instance eating 50g of processed meat (such as two small rashes of bacon) every day increases the risk of bowel cancer by 18%. There is also some evidence that red meat may also increase the risk of certain cancers.
The planet would also benefit from the reduction of red meat consumption, given the global livestock sector is a significant source of greenhouse gas, water pollution and forest clearing. Recently 37 experts collaborated for two years to produce the Lancets report; Food in the Anthropocene, to address a “civilization in crisis”. They came up with a “planetary health diet” that would optimize people’s health and reduce deaths globally by 19-24%.
The dietary overhaul includes a reduction in global consumption in less healthy food such as added sugars and red meat by less than 50%. Total daily meat consumption it recommends, shouldn’t exceed 28g/ day. The average Australian consumption is 250g a day!
The report also recommends a 100% increase in legumes, nuts, fruits and vegetables globally. These foods contain lots of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients called polyphenols that support a healthy body and brain. They are low in kilojoules, rich in fibre, which fills you up and feed your beneficial bacteria. Fibre also slows the release of glucose into the blood stream, which along with polyphenols, helps maintain healthy blood sugar control and reduces the risk of diabetes. According to research from the University of Florence, vegetarians who eat a balanced diet have long enjoyed significant health benefits when compared to meat eaters.
So, how does this information influence my family’s eating? We generally eat a diet high in vegetables, legumes and nuts. We do eat some red meat, but no more than once a week. With my wife Karen’s Multiple Sclerosis, we have been following a lower saturated fat diet and opt for eating kangaroo. With only 4% saturated fat, it is one of the healthiest meats and has less environmental impact to conventionally farmed animals. Eating Roo is a great way of getting your iron and B vitamin fix. Our tip is to try making a lean Bolognase sauce where you can mask the gamey flavour with smoky paprika and other herbs and spices. Substitute your pasta for broccoli, roasted cauliflower or zuchinni ribbons! Our other protein sources are: fish a few times a week, legumes, tofu and nuts.
The easiest way I find to increase vegetable intake is to have a soup or a salad as a main meal. In winter vegetable soup is both warming and filling. You are only limited by your imagination, but I like to add as many colours and supplement with legumes. The same is for my salads. No boring Iceburg lettuce and tomato for me! Instead I will use every available vegetable in the fridge (at least 8 varieties) and supplement with seeds, nuts and a can of legumes. Not only do I love the texture and flavours, but it’s like taking my daily vitamin… only better!
How many serves of vegetables do you get a day? www.eatforhealth.gov.au
What strategies do you use to boost your vegetable consumption?
I would love to hear from you :)
When I share with people that I like to climb rocks in my spare time I regularly encounter faces of dismay and questions… Why? Reflecting back on what I have learnt about wellbeing over the years, I note that my recreational pursuit ticks many of the foundations I explore in my corporate wellbeing programs. Here is why I find climbing so rewarding, physically, mentally and emotionally.
The most obvious is the physical nature of the activity. Climbing encapsulates most of the fundamental components of fitness: strength, power, endurance, balance and flexibility. We know that if exercise was a pill, all doctors would be prescribing it. Far reaching are the health benefits of regular activity to mind and body.
When I climb I do so with others. My wife is very thankful that I am not a free soloist, someone who climbs without a rope or partner! For me, a climbing weekend is a great way to catch up with friends and be social in an active way. Humans are social creatures and there is an abundance of research into the benefits of remaining connected and the health risks associated with social isolation.
Climbing outdoors is also a way that I get a regular green fix. Connecting with nature is good for the soul and there is an increasing amount of study going into the health benefits associated with regular “nature bathing.”
When I climb there is no time to be caught up with rumination or extraneous thoughts. I am acutely aware of my environment and being engaged in the present moment. On a good day this is experienced as being in the “zone” or experiencing a state of “flow”. That is: “the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time.”
Stress and building resilience
The fear of falling is one of the earliest anxiety patterns developed by an infant. For most of us the fear of height and the potential for falling and injury are hard wired. Climbing is an exquisite dance in regulating the fight & flight response. With exposure one becomes better at managing the stress response to big wall climbing.
Through climbing I have learnt how to remain focused in the present moment while still visualizing future moves that move me closer to my climbing goal. It’s not that one does not experience fear at times, but having faith in the process and taking action in the face of fear. Key to this is managing risk, assessing fall consequence and committing when necessary. Learning breathing techniques to better regulate ones nervous response to stress is critical in performance in climbing and any stressful situation.
From my studies in neuroscience climbing helps to create new connections, assisting the prefrontal cortex in taking charge over the amygdala and limbic system. Rewiring mind and body to be more resilient when faced with stress or a challenging situation.
Climbing involves living some of my core values of: courage, acceptance, personal growth, self-care and enjoying nature. Living my values gives me purpose and a sense that I am creating a life that is meaningful. This also gives a sense of wellbeing. The feeling is vital!
Now, I’m not suggesting that we all take to rock climbing for better wellbeing, however understanding some of the foundations that underpin your wellbeing and implementing them is key. Here is my top 6:
What are your foundations for being well? I would love to hear from you.
Jason's winter Vital lifestyle
Are you tired of:
If you are keen for change, but not sure where to start, I will assist in finding your path.
If you have a goal that seems light years away, I will help you get there.
You can trust me to inspire, nudge and keep you accountable.
Can you prescribe… a diet or give medical advise?
As your coach I will collaborate but not direct. I recognise you as the expert in your own life. I will facilitate a conversation that allows you to come up with your answers, strategies and tools for change.
Together we will draw out your inner wisdom, deepest desires, values and dreams – then use a step-by-step process to realise them, while outgrowing the challenges and obstacles that come up along the way.
Together we can brainstorm options that work best for you. We can collaborate on what you need to do more of, less of, or what you need to do completely different, so that you move closer to a vital lifestyle. You get to live life on your terms!
As your health and performance coach I will never replace your doctor or specialist. They are best for diagnosing. My place is to work in conjunction with your primary health practitioner, helping you to implement habits that improve your over all health, wellbeing and experience of life.
How long do I need?
Everyone’s health and wellbeing journey is unique. We are all faced with varying challenges (physical, mental and emotional) and have varying resources to meet those challenges. Our change process involves implementing healthy habits you can live with for the long term. Together we will achieve this by developing and implementing strategies and tools for change.
Some people say you can create a habit in as little as 21 days. Research from the University of London would suggest complex behaviours require much longer. On average it took 66 days until a habit was formed. As you might imagine there was considerable variation in how long habits took to form depending on what people tried to do. More complex habits took the better part of a year (254 days). Vital Lifestyle program run for a minimum of 12 weeks as this time is more realistic time frame for experiencing benefits.
What program is best for me?
Emotional Agility-A 12 week program that helps busy and stressed professionals to better manage thoughts and emotions and develop a mindset for success. You will learn simple and practical tools so you can feel better, achieve more and live a life that aligns with your values.
Being Vital-A 12 week program unpacking the power of habits and how best to maintain self care behaviour for the long term. You will build motivation and momentum with simple and effective strategies for change. A vital lifestyle for life!
Sustained Performance-A 12 week program that discovers your personal pillars of wellbeing. You will learn how to build resilience and boost vitality when faced with work and life challenges. Avoid burnout- sustain performance!
For your private discovery session, contact me below.
I can answer any questions and together determine if we are a match :)
Wellbeing implies a sense of thriving, flourishing, being fully alive, 'firing on all cylinders' and living life to the full, as well as feeling balanced and calm, contented and at ease with life.
Wellbeing is affected by many elements in our lives and varies from person to person because each of us has a different combination of psychological, emotional, social and physical inner resources upon which we draw. Our wellbeing fluctuates depending on the events, challenges and experiences we encounter in our lives
Here is another definition…
"Wellbeing can be imagined as a “see-saw” with a balance point between an individual’s inner resource pool and the challenges faced. Stable wellbeing is when individuals have the psychological, social and physical resources they need to meet a particular challenge. When individuals have more challenges than resources, the see-saw dips, along with their wellbeing."
(Dodge, Daley, Huyton & Sanders 2012)
How would you rate your wellbeing on a scale of 1-10?
What are your current challenges?
What are the resources that could move you closer to a 10?
Interventions are personalised and holistic. I meet you wherever you are on your lifestyle habit journey. Together we work to create changes that will make the biggest difference for you across (but not limited to) mindset, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and sleep.
Lead yourself & then others. Simply put, one must lead oneself in order to lead others. I work with leaders to instill their own wellbeing habits before engaging their teams, and engage change-makers at every level in the same way.
Small changes big differences. A 1% improvement in elite sport can be the difference between a championship and a second-place finish. Not all of us can be elite athletes, but each of us have the opportunity to improve our performance and discover what benefits it will bring. What is your opportunity?
Healthy Habits made easy. Adjusting a few key auto pilot habits can have a huge impact on overall health & wellbeing. Imagine effortlessly preparing a nutritious breakfast every day, regularly doing exercise that you enjoy, choosing to walk or cycle instead of driving or catching public transport, having workable strategies that have you be resilient in stressful times. These are the habits that can change lives once they are embedded in your daily routine and no longer require conscious effort to sustain.
Willpower is a limited resource. To sustain lifestyle habit change, we must build a supportive environment that makes doing the “right” thing easy – and well rewarded – and doing the “wrong” thing hard.
Rest and Recovery to be your best. Our lives are a marathon, not a sprint. While there are times when we need to sprint, we need to then rest and recover if we are to stay in the race and be at our best for our family, friends, and colleagues.
Measure and monitor to maintain momentum. Track progress throughout the change journey to enable accountability and maintain motivation. This maybe as simple as keeping an energy and mood diary or recording compliance to healthy behaviours.